Monday, August 30, 2010

Suburbs of Our Discontent

I'm finding it difficult to write because I'm haunted by my visit to Storyland today. Storyland in Glen, NH, is the poor man's DisneyWorld, but I've been going my whole life and have been taking my kids for the past four years. It hasn't changed in decades. In fact, the only big change was the removal of the Little Black Sambo ride in--shame on you, Storyland--1980. (And I'm pretty sure they repurposed it as the Happy African Village montage that the SlipShod Safari ride passes.)

But this is not what haunts me. What haunts me is what I witnessed at the Hanneford Royal Circus at Storyland. This is one of those fifth-generation Russian circuses with dancing cats and glamorous acrobatic couples with names like The Smirnovs. One of the acts involved a mother-father-five-year-old son unicycling trio. I almost had a heart attack watching that little kid stand on his father's 20-foot-high shoulders. (I can barely watch my five-year-old go on his Razor.) But I survived. Only to have to witness another family--this one with a maybe 10-year-old son and daughter flipping and bouncing their way to great heights to land on a human pyramid.

It was all fabulous and ooh and aah, but then the little boy fell on his neck. The family, all smiles, hauled him out of the ring and off stage, and then the perky emcee started talking about how we should all "go green" and pick up our trash, and then before you knew it the Smirnovs were on stage doing their crazy-ass dress-changing routine. And no one was saying anything about the boy. It was like watching the last two acts of The Winter's Tale, after the young Mamillius has died of a broken heart, and we're expected to jump right into the Comedy portion of the evening.

Then they brought everyone out at the end to bow, and he comes bounding on stage with everyone and I'm thinking: there must be a twin...maybe the less coordinated one, and they keep him backstage just in case his brother breaks his neck and they want everyone to feel okay so they'll go back out into Storyland and ride the Polar Coaster and buy fried Oreos and visit Cinderella's Castle without feeling guilty.

And you know what? It worked. Everyone went on their merry way while poor Vladimir fought for his life, lying on a cold patch of circus straw. And his sister had to keep dancing, dancing, and smiling. Run, little Anastasia. Run.

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